Hurricane Irma: How do I get back to my home in Florida?

Information about gas, hotels, flights post-Hurricane Irma

By Kirstin O’Connor - Reporter/Anchor, LAKANA

FLORIDA - One day after Hurricane Irma took a damaging path through Florida, the recovery process has begun for millions, while evacuees in states like Georgia and South Carolina are eager to drive home.

As power crews dispersed Tuesday, an estimated 15 million Floridians were without electricity. Bridges were being inspected around the state, power outages left traffic signals inoperable on key surface roads, and some roadways remained closed due to standing water, downed power lines or debris.

Still, interstates across the southeast filled with traffic Tuesday, with metro areas in multiple states reporting backups and slower-than-usual traffic.

Are Florida airports open?

As of 9 a.m. Sept. 12, most airports are back open. The majority of airport advisories are being sent out via Twitter.

Orlando International Airport is back open on a limited schedule. Travelers should check with individual airlines for flight updates.

Miami International Airport is gradually resuming their schedules Tuesday, September 12.
Twitter handle: @iflymia

Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) is open; however, there are no scheduled commercial passenger flights operating. Passengers should not come to the airport today. Passengers should check for updated flight status starting Wednesday, September 13.
Twitter handle: @SFB_Airport

Million Air Orlando (FBO) is open today for general aviation and charter flights.

As of 4 a.m., Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is back open.
Twitter handle: @FLLFlyer

Tampa International Airport also resumed flights Tuesday, with a build-up to a full schedule in the following days. Check with your airline for specific flight info.
Twitter handle: @FlyTPA

Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB) is closed and does not anticipate any scheduled flights Tuesday, Sept. 12.
Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) resumed flights Tuesday.
Twitter handle: @FlyDAB

Can evacuees drive home?

Gov. Rick Scott said in a press conference in Jacksonville Tuesday morning, that all Florida highways and turnpikes opened Tuesday.

"We already have the carriers out getting that fuel today with escorts today," said Scott, adding that bridges will be inspected for damages.

Drivers should fill up gas tanks before leaving, watch out for debris, and expect at least a couple-hour delay.

Travelers should also be aware of road closures due to flooding.

The Santa Fe River, which runs under Interstate 75 in north-central Florida, has risen rapidly 15 feet within the past two days, according to Florida transportation officials. The water will likely rise further in the coming days, they said. As of Wednesday morning, the river level was at 55 feet. 

Two bridges north of Gainesville at US 27 and US 41 were closed Wednesday evening due to the unprecedented flooding which could affect drivers traveling home after evacuating.

Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Steven Montiero talked about trouble spots on the News 6 Morning News Tuesday.

"Contact your local government. You know, FHP, we are a statewide government law enforcement agency, but we're deployed everywhere right now, doing rescue missions,. (It's) very rare that you see a trooper on boats, but we're doing it, and we're down everywhere. We just deployed 30-plus troopers down to Collier County," Montiero said.

You can check for incidents and detour information at Florida 511 online at:
You can also call 511 for updates.

Other methods of transportation?

SunRail service is suspended until later notice.

Ride-sharing service Uber is donating $400,000 in rides, food and other supplies to communities affected by Hurricane Irma. Click here for city-specific details on free rides.

What can I do about finding gas?

Florida gas stations are still hurting for fuel Tuesday as the state continues to recover from Hurricane Irma.
About 43 percent of gas stations in Florida are dry, according to the crowd sourcing platform GasBuddy.
But the shortages are worse in several major cities around the state. In the Miami-Fort Lauderdale region, for example, about 60 percent of stations don't have fuel. Same for Gainesville.

Read more about GasBuddy, here.

About half of the gas stations in Tampa, Orlando, Tallahassee and Fort Meyers were also without fuel, according to GasBuddy.

That's not much of a change from what the website reported Monday. Shortages are likely to remain until ports in Florida's major cities reopen. The state has few refineries of its own, and tankers and barges will have to deliver virtually all of its fuel.

"As long as the ports are closed, the normal flow of fuel -- it's just not there," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy. "Until the normal flow of fuel returns, I think we're still at risk for seeing these numbers lift."

Ports in Tampa Bay and Miami planned to reopen Tuesday, which could help the situation improve.

Scott said Tuesday that fuel tankers have begun arriving at Port Tampa Bay with more fuel. Troopers will escort trucks to gas stations around the state.

Logistical challenges could still hamper fuel supply to gas stations. According to GasBuddy, anywhere from 33 percent to 46 percent of stations in some of the state's biggest cities are without power.

Some gas stations may have also suffered damage from the hurricane, while others could be blocked by road closures.

Florida officials scrambled before Irma hit to ease the gas shortage. The state's ports prioritized fuel shipments, and Scott provided police escorts to tanker trucks. Scott also encouraged gas stations along evacuation routes to stay open late by offering gas station workers police escorts to make sure they got out before the storm hit.

The federal government has offered assistance as well by waiving restrictions on the types of cargo ships that can deliver fuel and on the types of fuel that can be used in Florida and other states.

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